News


First Cold Case Playing Card Case Solved; Man Arrested in Fort Myers

10/19/2007
 
The Fort Myers Police Department announced earlier today the arrest of Derrick L. Hamilton for the alleged murder of Fort. Myers resident James Foote on November 15, 2004. Hamilton’s arrest comes as the first case to be solved as a result of the Cold Case Playing Cards initiative. The initiative is a joint effort between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Corrections, Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to help crack Florida’s unsolved cold cases by distributing playing cards to inmates in the state’s prisons. Foote was the 7 of clubs in the first edition deck.

“In less than three months since the playing cards were released we have already been able to bring closure to one of our unsolved homicide cases,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “This just goes to show the potential of this initiative in terms of cracking some of Florida’s most challenging cases.”

The case was cracked when an inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution Annex in Lake City, Fla. saw the cold case playing card featuring Foote and alerted authorities of Hamilton’s involvement. Detectives from Fort Myers Police Department located Hamilton and arrested him at his residence today. Foote was found dead on November 15, 2004 in Fort Myers with a single gunshot wound to his chest.

In late July 2007, approximately 100,000 decks of cold case playing cards were distributed to 93,000 inmates in the state’s 129 prisons, enabling law enforcement with the possibility of reaching thousands of potential sources who may be able to provide critical information to help resolve an unsolved crime.

“Solving just one crime makes the entire effort worthwhile,” said Department of Corrections Secretary James McDonough. “This concept works because criminals are connected to other criminals and can often provide vital information. We hope this is the first of many crimes to be solved.”

Printing for the initial two different decks of cards, which profiled 104 unsolved cases from across Florida, was funded by the Florida Attorney General’s Crime Stoppers Trust Fund. The toll-free number of each case’s local Crime Stoppers chapter can be found on each card and every inmate has been given access to a phone in order to contact Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers has received 66 tips from the first decks of cards. FDLE is currently working with Crime Stoppers and Florida law enforcement to develop a third edition deck of cards to feature 52 new unsolved cold cases. The release of Florida’s statewide playing cards in July received worldwide attention, and multiple other local and state jurisdictions have reported adopting the program.

“This arrest is a good example of just how far creative, out-of-the box thinking can go toward fighting and solving crime in our communities,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum. “This cooperative effort among all agencies involved with the Cold Case Playing Card initiative highlights our commitment to protect Floridians and help crime victims and their families receive justice and find closure."

To learn more about the Cold Case Playing Cards initiative, please visit www.fdle.state.fl.us/OSI/unsolved.